EPWORTH, Iowa — Epworth Police Chief James Kauffmann provides the same message over the police radio whenever he starts a shift.
“Dubuque County, this is Epworth One. I am 10-41.”
In the 10-code parlance used by law enforcement during radio communications, “10-41” means that Kauffmann is
beginning his tour of duty, providing patrol coverage for his community. Similarly, when Kauffmann is done for the day, he informs dispatchers that he is “10-42.”
“When we start our shift, we notify (county) dispatch, and when we end our shift, we notify dispatch, so the county knows who is on duty,” Kauffmann said.
And for many small communities like Epworth, their staffs can’t cover the 168 hours in each week, so they rely on other law enforcement agencies to take the lead during those other times.
A full-time officer, Kauffmann is augmented by a pair of part-time officers in providing coverage in Epworth.
“We provide 56 hours a week of coverage,” Kauffmann said.
The times and days can vary.
“We try to cover during peak times,” Kauffmann said. “We like to have someone on when the high school is in session, and we work on special events. (Recently), we had Octoberfest, and I worked then. If there are burglaries at 2 in the morning, we will have coverage during that time. It varies from day to day and week to week.”
During the off-hours, after Kauffmann and his other officers sign off for the day, the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department steps in to fill the law-enforcement void — a common practice in the tri-state area.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AFTER SIGN-OFF
In Dubuque County as elsewhere, the sheriff’s department and police departments work in tandem.
“We have a very good relationship with all of the surrounding agencies,” said Dubuque County Sheriff Joe Kennedy. “We’re very fortunate that way. There are other areas where they are very competitive with each other. Around here, we all work together and rely on each other for support.”
He explained the process.
“Basically, what happens is, when you have an Epworth or a Cascade or Farley that has limited coverage throughout the week, all of those city taxpayers also pay county taxes, so we are their law enforcement for the interim until the primary agency comes back on duty, usually the next day,” he said.
Kennedy said the coverage provided to smaller communities typically occurs during nights and weekends.
“Epworth and Farley are good examples,” Kennedy said. “They each have a police chief and some part-timers that work for them, but for the most part, once the police chief goes off (duty), those towns are relatively uncovered.
“For example, if the chief were to go off at 5 o’clock and come back in the next morning at 8, we would have the coverage. If he goes off at 5 o’clock Friday and didn’t have any part-time coverage over the weekend, we would actually have the coverage from 5 o’clock Friday to 8 a.m. Monday, when he returns. But there aren’t really a ton of calls in those towns, so we don’t have a lot of problems.”
The sheriff’s department’s weekend coverage in small towns also differs somewhat in approach, based upon the severity of the call.
“One thing that people don’t understand is that, if we have what we refer to as a ‘hot’ call — say like a domestic (assault) or something that is happening right now ... we will handle those calls and take care of them from start to finish,” Kennedy said. “But if, say like those stolen vehicles that Epworth had a couple of weeks ago, if we get called on those, because those are ‘cold’ calls, we take the initial report and then we forward that back to the Epworth Police Department because it’s their responsibility to follow up on that.”
ON THE ROAD WITH THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT
Dubuque County is 617 square miles in area.
“You try to make sure that your officers are situated in the appropriate areas to be able to make a fairly rapid response to anywhere in the county if they need to,” Kennedy said. “Yeah, sometimes we might not be able to get to someplace before 20 minutes. That’s just the way it is. We can only drive so fast, and our primary responsibility is that we get to the scene so we can resolve the issue, and if our guys are out of control and getting into accidents, then we can’t resolve the issue.”
The vast county is split into three main territories for sheriff’s department patrols.
“We have what we call the ‘south territory,’ which is everything south of Highway 20; the ‘north territory,’ which is north of 20; and then we have what we call the ‘inside territory,’ which is everything within about five to seven miles of the city of Dubuque,” Kennedy said. “The inside car would cover Sherrill, Durango, Peosta, the airport. The inside territory car is usually the busiest car. They just have a larger population to cover.”
Kennedy said the department also has a patrol sergeant, who travels between all three territories.
“Also, depending upon how many people we have on, we will have what we call ‘county cars,’ and they can go wherever they want,” he said.
Kennedy said 20 staff members patrol the county during various shifts. Kennedy estimates a road deputy travels about 25,000 miles during the course of the year. The 20 road deputies combine for an estimated 500,000 miles.
Some patrol deputies began taking squad cars home about two years ago.
“Then, last year, about this time, we really had the bulk of them taking cars home,” Kennedy said. “We got the last three take-home cars on the road in March.”
The program to provide specially outfitted take-home cars cost $768,211, paid for by forfeiture funds — money acquired when property is seized during criminal investigations.
Kennedy said the take-home cars have helped reduce time spent in the office, thereby increasing response times to calls.
“Previously, (patrol deputies) would come down here (to Dubuque Law Enforcement Center), and in order for the officers to complete their workday, they would have to download (their vehicle’s) camera and everything else,” Kennedy said. “So, they would have to come down here early — 30 to 45 min-utes before the end of their shift — and then the new deputy would take over. He would take a shift briefing. He would get his car set up and do all of the things that he needed to do, and then he or she would make any telephone calls to follow up from the day before — and that would be another 30 to 45 minutes.
“So, you would have an hour to an hour and a half where there were no deputies on the road at shift change — and that was three times a day.”
Kennedy said the office time occasionally impacted law-enforcement coverage in rural areas.
“It seems like once a week, we would get a call on the west end of the county right at shift change,” he said. “That was a point of contention with some of the smaller agencies out there — having to take care of our stuff. And I totally understand. They were our calls and their city councils didn’t want them running out of town all the time to handle stuff that their taxpayers weren’t paying for. I totally get that. So, (take-home cars) should help with some of that.”
Kennedy said all take-home cars are equipped with a cellphone.
“Any follow-up calls or anything they need to do can be done on that cellphone,” he said. “Other than to come down here if they make an arrest, or if they have to download their vehicle camera or their body-worn camera, they have no need to even be here at the office. They go straight out on patrol, and we get back that hour to an hour and a half three times a day.”
Kennedy said challenges to rural law enforcement remain in Dubuque County.
“I would like to expand our road patrol, get more deputies out there,” he said. “We do the best we can with what we have.”
Kennedy said that using the most recently approved wage information, the cost for an additional road deputy and a take-home patrol car would be $205,967 for the first year.
“Obviously, the cost of the car would be subtracted out of that in the years following,” he said.
Kennedy said a new employee added to the department’s roster would cost $125,967, based upon the last previously agreed contract for deputies, and would include training costs.
“My goal would be to incrementally add five deputies over the course of three to five years,” Kennedy said. “We can never be in a position where we are satisfied with where we’re at. We owe it to the people of the county to always look for ways to expand, to grow, to move forward and to be on the cutting edge of law enforcement.”
UNIQUE IN DUBUQUE COUNTY: THE WORTHINGTON MODEL
One Dubuque County community has a unique arrangement with the sheriff’s department.
Worthington has no police officers of its own and pays the sheriff’s department about $10,000 per year to provide law enforcement services.
“It works well,” said Mayor Gary Langel. “They provide a routine patrol, watching for speeders and general law enforcement.”
Kennedy said Worthington officials contacted the county because they had searched in vain for a part-time officer. The county began providing the coverage in 2017.
Worthington pays a current rate of $43.71 per hour and requests coverage for 16 to 20 hours per month.
“That covers the deputies’ wages and vehicle maintenance for the time spent in their town,” Kennedy said.
The cost increases 3% annually to cover increased deputy wages and maintenance.
“Any month we are there and are over 20 hours, we do not bill them for the extra hours,” Kennedy said.
Langel said the arrangement has helped reduce the number of speeding motorists in town, coming via Iowa 136 and the farm-to-market roads.
“They have been very helpful,” he said of the sheriff’s department. “They have been really good to work with, and I think it’s a good fit for everybody.”
Kennedy expects the Worthington model to remain unique.
“Honestly, if every town in the county wanted to do this, we wouldn’t have the manpower,” Kennedy said. “We’re fortunate that the Worthington request is not a huge burden from our standpoint. When you look at the county, there are 21 incorporated cities in Dubuque County. Dubuque and Dyersville, besides us, are the only ones who have 24/7 coverage.
“If we had to cover a certain number of hours in 19 other towns, we would need a much larger road patrol than what we have got.”
GRANT COUNTY’S LAW ENFORCEMENT ARRANGEMENTS
Four communities in 1,183-square-mile Grant County, Wis., have agencies providing 24-hour law-enforcement coverage — Boscobel, Fennimore, Lancaster and Platteville.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Department fills in when local law enforcement signs off.
“Typically, during those hours of no coverage, we respond and handle any emergent calls for service,” said Sheriff Nate Dreckman. “Those other calls that are maybe a local ordinance issue, if there is not a pressing matter with it, we will wait for their next officer to come on and give them the call. We inquire with the complainant to make sure this is good for them, and if they insist on seeing an officer that night, we will respond and then forward the information to that police department.”
Grant County has four sergeants and 14 deputies split into various shifts to handle patrol duties.
The department also has a detective sergeant, two detectives and a drug investigator.
“We typically divide the county into four sections, depending on staffing — north, west, south and central sections,” Dreckman said. “If we have extra deputies, we will be double them up in an area.
We assign a vehicle to each one of our deputies. Take-home squad cars help us as the deputy can respond immediately to calls once they come on duty or get called out. With deputies living in different locations throughout the county, this provides some better coverage at shift changes. Typically, the deputy will start their shift patrolling the part of the county where they live.”
Smaller communities can help assist the sheriff’s department, too.
“The sheriff’s office is spread pretty thin at times throughout the county,” Dreckman said. “Those smaller agencies will assist us, provide backup and on occasion be the first responder to an incident out in the county.”
Dreckman said any law enforcement agency can request mutual aid under Wisconsin law.
“That means there are times that we do respond to the neighboring counties to assist them with calls,” he said. “In return, they do the same for us. We also have an excellent working relationship with both the state patrol and the Wisconsin (Department of Natural Resources).”
Dreckman said small staffs among local agencies make combining resources an effective way to respond to certain incidents.
An example of Grant County partnerships includes the Southwest Wisconsin Emergency Response Team, which includes members from the sheriff’s department, Platteville and University of Wisconsin-Platteville police departments and the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department.
“Another example is our Mobile Field Force Team,” he said.
This unit combines multiple agencies from Iowa, Grant and Lafayette counties and provides crowd control, among other duties.
“Rural law enforcement relies heavily on these partnerships,” Dreckman said.
GEOGRAPHIC SIZE CHALLENGES JO DAVIESS COUNTY ENFORCEMENT
One of the challenges of providing law enforcement in Jo Daviess County, Ill., is the sheer size of the county.
“Jo Daviess County is 619 square miles,” Sheriff Kevin Turner said.
The county sheriff’s department has 18 deputies and 18 take-home squad cars to patrol the vast area, which is split into three patrol zones: east, west and center.
The county’s size can pose a challenge when two cars are required to respond to an incident.
“If a municipality or the state police do not have someone working, the officer’s backup might be 10 to 15 minutes away,” Turner said.
Turner said mutual-aid agree-ments ensure law-enforcement coverage throughout the county.
“They will always have law-enforcement coverage,” he said. “Local police departments assist the county when we are busy and vice versa. We typically know when an agency has an officer working or not.”
Turner said deputies will cover emergency calls when municipal agencies aren’t on duty. Lesser infractions are forwarded to the appropriate local agency.
“If it was a noise complaint, damage to property or a barking dog, we will take the caller’s information and have the municipality call the complainant,” he said.
The sheriff’s department also has mutual-aid agreements for law-enforcement assistance with out-of-state counties, including Dubuque, Grant and Lafayette counties.
“We do not need agreements within the state, although we do have agreements in place for special services: our response team and investigations,” he said.
Turner said an improvement he would like to see for rural law enforcement in Jo Daviess County relates to the communications system.
“I would like to see better radio coverage for all emergency services,” he said. “With our terrain, we have some weak areas for signals.”